March 13th, 2014

Tigers sign Nate Robertson to minor-league contract

The last time Nate Robertson was in Tigers camp, he was on the verge of being traded to the Marlins. That was at the end of Spring Training in 2010, which is also the last year Robertson pitched in the Major Leagues.

So maybe it was fitting that word leaked during the Tigers game against the Marlins that Robertson was working out across the street in minor-league camp. He agreed to a minor-league contract last week.

The deal does not include any invite to big league camp. He’s slated to pitch for a spot at Triple-A Toledo.

Robertson lasted pitch in the big leagues in Philadelphia in the summer of 2010, and has been bouncing around trying to get another opportunity since. He spent 2011 in the rotation at Triple-A Tacoma in the Mariners organization, split the 2012 season between the Cubs and Blue Jays systems, then pitched 50 1/3 innings out of the bullpen at Triple-A Round Rock in the Rangers system. He returns back to his roots with the Tigers looking for some left-handed pitching depth in their system.

Robertson is now 36 years old and pitches a little differently. He lowered his arm angle in his delivery before last season to give his pitches more movement and his delivery more deception. He had some respectable numbers in the Pacific Coast League last year, going 4-4 with a 3.04 ERA and allowing 45 hits over 50 1/3 innings. He walked 23, struck out 40 and didn’t allow a single home run. He held left-handed hitters to a .213 average (17-for-80) with eight walks and 23 strikeouts, compared with a .267 (28-for-105) clip against righties.

No idea whether that ratio translates to the big leagues. Even with some uncertainty in the Tigers bullpen, it’s not going to be an immediate issue. The Tigers have their candidates for lefty relief going into the season, with Ian Krol, Phil Coke, Blaine Hardy, Jose Alvarez and Kyle Lobstein competing. Meanwhile, Detroit just optioned Casey Crosby to Toledo, where fellow ex-Tiger Wil Ledezma also just signed.

Thursday: Tigers vs. Marlins

Spring Training 012

It’s not a completely regular lineup for the Tigers today for the chilly, snowbound local TV audience, but there are some interesting guys worth watching beyond the three guys in the middle. Rajai Davis gets a day in the leadoff spot, while Steven Moya gets another start in right field. Again, Moya is not going to make the team, but if this spring serves as a confidence boost that carries him into Double-A Erie, it could do wonders for his development.

This lineup will take its cuts against former Tiger Jacob Turner, who gets the start for the Marlins.

Today’s game is on Fox Sports Detroit back home and on MLB.TV online.

TIGERS

  1. Rajai Davis, LF
  2. Steve Lombardozzi, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Torii Hunter, DH
  5. Austin Jackson, CF
  6. Steven Moya, RF
  7. Danny Worth, 3B
  8. Bryan Holaday, C
  9. Eugenio Suarez, SS

P: Drew Smyly, Blaine Hardy, Joba Chamberlain, Joe Nathan, Jose Alvarez, Justin Miller

MARLINS

  1. Jake Marisnick, DH
  2. Christian Yelich, LF
  3. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
  4. Garrett Jones, 1B
  5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
  6. Casey McGehee, 3B
  7. Marcell Ozuna, CF
  8. Ed Lucas, 2B
  9. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS

P: Jacob Turner, Andrew Heaney, Adam Conley, Sam Dyson, Arquimedes Caminero

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